Clay family looks back on second anniversary of the Jan. storms - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Clay family looks back on second anniversary of the Jan. 23 tornadoes

Posted: Updated:
CLAY - AL -

 Thursday marks two years since a deadly tornado hit Jefferson County. Some communities are still recovering. The EF-3 tore apart hundreds of homes and took two lives. Some areas didn't get state or federal funding to help with cleanup costs. That meant projects like parks and re-paving were delayed. But today, Clay's mayor signed a deal with the county to pave Old Springville Road and Deerfoot Parkway. He says finishing most tornado cleanup has the city financially stable again.

While those cities are beginning to heal physically the families impacted are healing emotionally.  Tonight, we spoke with the family who lost their teenage daughter in the storm. 

"Minutes after it happened, just devastation like a bomb went off, like a war zone," Dr. Charles Hart, a local veterinarian said.

"You never think you'd be able to pinpoint the worst day in your life - unfortunately we can," Darrell Heichelbech, who lost his daughter said. 

January 23, 2012. 

The Heichelbech family lost their home and everything they owned along with their 16 year old daughter, Christina. 

"We had friends from church, who, when we came out of the hospital we didn't have anything," Heichelbech said. "We didn't have clothes and they were able to get us clothes right away."

"A teenage had been killed," Hart said. "Didn't realize it was her until late that afternoon."

Sarah: "What was that like when you found out it was her?"

"Heart sank," Hart said. "She was part of the family."

Christina wanted to go to Auburn and become a veterinarian. She spent time volunteering at the Clay Chalkville Animal Clinic.

"We started a scholarship in her name and endowed it which means someone will get a scholarship every year and learn about her story," Hart said.

"It means so much that her memory will live on," Carol Heichelbech, Christina's mom said. "And something that meant so much to her can help someone else."

The family considered moving, but rebuilt where their house once stood.

"We wanted to see those faces again," Heichelbech said. "The people that our kids grew up with and the people we've come to know as a second family over the years."

Her dad showed us a quilt - a housewarming gift - made from her t-shirts salvaged in the wreckage. 

Christina is now part of city history. This proclamation makes January 23rd "Christina Heilchelbech Day." 

"She brought so much to our lives and so many other people's lives," her mother said.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Fire danger rises for Labor Day weekend

    Fire danger rises for Labor Day weekend

    Friday, August 29 2014 11:59 PM EDT2014-08-30 03:59:40 GMT
    Our recent dry weather has created the perfect conditions for fire danger. More >>
    Our recent dry weather has created the perfect conditions for fire danger. More >>
  • Talladega parents allege school employee wrote racist Facebook posts

    Talladega parents allege school employee wrote racist Facebook posts

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:32 PM EDT2014-08-29 23:32:28 GMT
    Several parents and community members in Talladega are upset Friday over allegations of racial comments made from a school employee's Facebook page.More >>
    Several parents and community members in Talladega are upset Friday over allegations of racial comments made from a school employee's Facebook page.More >>
  • Hackleburg High School preps for first home game in three years

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:57 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:57:25 GMT
    Tonight is a homecoming three years in the making for Hackleburg High School. The team takes the field tonight in their new stadium, finally completed after an E-F five tornado destroyed it on April 27, 2011.It is sure to be a packed house at Ray Stadium as the Hackleburg panthers take on Marion County, tonight at 7:00 p.m. This is going to be an emotional night, not only for the school, but for the community as well. "This is going to be an emotional game, an emotional crowd. This field ho...More >>
    Tonight is a homecoming three years in the making for Hackleburg High School. The team takes the field tonight in their new stadium, finally completed after an E-F five tornado destroyed it on April 27, 2011.It is sure to be a packed house at Ray Stadium as the Hackleburg panthers take on Marion County, tonight at 7:00 p.m. This is going to be an emotional night, not only for the school, but for the community as well. "This is going to be an emotional game, an emotional crowd. This field ho...More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Rescue workers digging to save man buried in a hole

    Rescue workers digging to save man buried in a hole

    Saturday, August 30 2014 3:56 PM EDT2014-08-30 19:56:01 GMT
    Birmingham Fire and Rescue units are on the scene of an accident where a man has been buried in a hole.More >>
    Birmingham Fire and Rescue units are on the scene of an accident where a man has been buried in a hole.More >>
  • City Council to get update on education in Birmingham

    City Council to get update on education in Birmingham

    Friday, August 29 2014 8:55 PM EDT2014-08-30 00:55:45 GMT
    The Birmingham City Council is hosting a lunch meeting with the Birmingham Board of Education to discuss the current state and direction of the Birmingham City Schools. The meeting will be held Tuesday, September 2, 2014 from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Regions Bank in the Executive Dining Room."We want to make sure that as a council we are engaged in all aspects of development for our city," Council President Jonathan Austin said. "It is very important that are continually updated on areas such ...More >>
    The Birmingham City Council is hosting a lunch meeting with the Birmingham Board of Education to discuss the current state and direction of the Birmingham City Schools. The meeting will be held Tuesday, September 2, 2014 from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Regions Bank in the Executive Dining Room."We want to make sure that as a council we are engaged in all aspects of development for our city," Council President Jonathan Austin said. "It is very important that are continually updated on areas such ...More >>
  • Exclusive: Birmingham beats out Miami for DOT conference

    Exclusive: Birmingham beats out Miami for DOT conference

    Friday, August 29 2014 6:34 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:34:48 GMT
    ABC 33/40 has learned that the City of Birmingham beat out Miami for a DOT conference. A date for the conference has yet to be scheduled but hosting such an event gives the city an opportunity to solicit federal funding for transportation projects throughout the metro. Count on us to pass along any new information as soon as we get it.More >>
    ABC 33/40 has learned that the City of Birmingham beat out Miami for a DOT conference. A date for the conference has yet to be scheduled but hosting such an event gives the city an opportunity to solicit federal funding for transportation projects throughout the metro. Count on us to pass along any new information as soon as we get it.More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:45:16 GMT
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
  • Gadsden police recover more than 300 stolen items; felony charges against suspected fence

    Gadsden police recover more than 300 stolen items; felony charges against suspected fence

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:22 PM EDT2014-08-29 03:22:34 GMT
    Joe Walker Pearl (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)Joe Walker Pearl (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)
    Police in Gadsden are trying to return hundreds of stolen items to their rightful owners. Captain Paul Cody said officers bust a large fencing operation this week. Joe Pearl, 75, is the suspect in the case. It took a long time to sort through and document a very wide range of stolen property. "We've collected a lot of stuff," Cody said. "Toilet paper. We have non-firearms related weapons, we have karaoke machines, musical instruments, car stereos, underwear."More >>
    Police in Gadsden are trying to return hundreds of stolen items to their rightful owners. Captain Paul Cody said officers bust a large fencing operation this week. Joe Pearl, 75, is the suspect in the case. It took a long time to sort through and document a very wide range of stolen property. "We've collected a lot of stuff," Cody said. "Toilet paper. We have non-firearms related weapons, we have karaoke machines, musical instruments, car stereos, underwear."More >>
  • Gadsden police arrest suspect in deadly stabbing case

    Gadsden police arrest suspect in deadly stabbing case

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:37:31 GMT
    William D'Angelo McKinney (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)William D'Angelo McKinney (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)
    Investigators in Gadsden said a man strangled his ex-girlfriend Tuesday evening before stabbing another man to death. Officers arrested 30-year-old William D'Angelo McKinney Wednesday night. He faces charges for murder and domestic violence with strangulation. Police said McKinney went to his ex-girlfriend's home in the Mill Village area and let himself in. Investigators said she asked him to leave, but he shoved her and then put her in a headlock until she blacked out.More >>
    Investigators in Gadsden said a man strangled his ex-girlfriend Tuesday evening before stabbing another man to death. Officers arrested 30-year-old William D'Angelo McKinney Wednesday night. He faces charges for murder and domestic violence with strangulation. Police said McKinney went to his ex-girlfriend's home in the Mill Village area and let himself in. Investigators said she asked him to leave, but he shoved her and then put her in a headlock until she blacked out.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...